By Allyson Shepherd –  Specialist in Paediatric Dentistry at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust in England

“Over a busy fortnight I visited Young Focus and provided oral health education sessions and carried out a dental examination on all the preschool children, as well as some primary and secondary school children (over 400 children in total). 

Oral health education sessions were given to the preschool staff, the children and to their parents. The sessions stressed the importance of reducing the intake of sugary foods and drinks, particularly between meals in order to prevent tooth decay. Twice daily toothbrushing for 2 minutes with a fully fluoridated toothpaste (containing between 1350 and 1450 ppm fluoride) was recommended for all. All the children were given a new toothbrush and shown how to brush their teeth. The preschool children now brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste during a preschool session every day.

Tooth decay is a significant health issue for these children, often causing pain and infection. A number of the older children connected to Young Focus had decay in their adult teeth and had experienced dental pain and extractions.

Access to dental treatment is very limited, therefore going forwards, prevention is key. Over 95% of tooth decay is totally preventable by reducing sugar intake and toothbrushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.

Good oral health is promoted by Young Focus. Healthy food is provided for the children and daily toothbrushing takes place for the children in the preschool.

The future: I met with dentists working in the Department of Community Dentistry at the University of the Philippines, Manila. They were seeking a new outreach project for undergraduate students and came to visit Young Focus later that week. They are hopeful that Young Focus maybe suitable for a student led preventive programme in the future. Hopefully, over time the dental health for these delightful children and their families will improve.”

Results of the preschool dental examinations

• Number examined:

• Age range:
2-6 yrs

• Extensive tooth decay in their milk teeth:

• Average number of teeth with decay:
13 (out of 20)

• Visible signs of an infection(dental abscess) of those with decay, with over a third having 2 or more abscesses:

• Pain from their teeth: